interview

The Devil's Hole: The art of beer label

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

In 2013, Fred and I have been talking about the labels of Quebec beer companies, as well as their publicity and branding. He had lots of questions about the whole process. That same year, he actually started creating beer labels for craft beer maker, The Devil's Hole. Fred understood well The Devil's Hole is a personality and he fits his style to bring justice to the business' brand.

How did your collaboration with The Devil's Hole begin?

It's a bit weird actually. Everything happened in the fall of 2013. I put Isaac Tremblay, one of the co-founders of Le Trou du Diable . Back then, I was curious about the image and branding of many breweries. Meanwhile, Isaac needed an image for The Limbo, a limited edition beer brewed in collaboration with the God of Heaven brewery. The timing was perfect.


Back then Were you a fan of the beer labels you were seeing on grocery store shelves?

I found that most of the labels of Quebec beer companies were repetitive or very classic. In my opinion, Le Trou du Diable was already one of the more interesting brands to look at. Their visuals stood out. The first beer I bought from them La Pitoune I do it because of the beauty of the illustration on the bottle. I wondered who had made it because it was a really well crafted image. After a bit of research, I discovered it was a drawing back to the beginning of the 20th century, probably from a magazine. By using this illustration, Le Trou du Diable skillfully combined traditional imagery with a modern twist. The design of their bottles was also very distinctive. I later learned they were a prototype they got from their friends at Beau's Brewery. Deciding not to go ahead with the regular 500 ml bottle was an original and simple idea. In my opinion, the audience understands the importance of having a unique visual signature, one that added value to their product.

I grew up in an environment where Coca-Cola ads were considered art pieces. When you think about it, Illustrations are an art form that are perfect to market and sell products. You are here Alfons Mucha drew for JOB cigarette papers to understand the value of an illustrator's touch. By the way, Mucha was shunned by academics because of his work in marketing. Art connoisseurs believed Mucha had lost his artistic integrity because of those ads. The debate on artistic integrity is nothing new.


When Isaac Tremblay contacted you, was he hoping his beer labels would become works of art?

Back then, the brewery was on the verge of substantially growing production and distribution. On top of their regular beers, Le Trou du Diable was set to add a variety of new products to store shelves. Isaac wanted to give them a visual personality, starting with Les Limbes, . He told me, "I want a drawing of the Grim Reaper in purgatory."

I drew some sketches and ended up with a concept that brought together a young woman and the Grim Reaper. It's a classic layout that comes from an ancient myth: love and beauty come face to face with death and end up giving it a touch of humanity. It's a very romantic idea and I wanted to give the image some of the style of 1950s American comic books. With my more relaxed drawing style, it ended up being a unique hybrid. It was my first collaboration with Le Trou du Diable and since then, I've created 18 of their labels.


With the exception of the one you did for Limbo, it feels like more of your other labels. They're a lot different from what we find in your portraits and your more narrative scenes.

You're right. I wanted to do something different, something with a comic book Le Trou du Diable 's themes that are dark and hint towards danger. Here in Quebec, a large part of the illustrations used in beer branding have been inspired by traditional or folkloric imagery. There were, and there still are, a lot of dramatic scenes borrowed from colonial French-Canadian and Catholic heritage. Tea Unibroue it was very successful. But for Le Trou du Diable 's labels, I decided to go back to the drawing style I had when I was a teenager. It just came naturally and I've always liked funny and more humorous illustrations. In fact, I worked on some issues of Safarir (Quebec's version of MAD Magazine) when I was 17 or 18 years old. That experience influenced me so much that it was kind of instinctive for me to return to that style. The labels have a touch of irony and humor and I think they turned out really well.


The labels received a lot of attention and I think of their success with other designs. It turns out illustrators are more in demand for this type of work. I like to think that we have a precedent. When you think about it, the design of a beer label is important as an album cover. And nowadays, there are so many to explore. I noticed how big of a deal craft beer has become a trip to the United States few years ago: the shelves of stores that specializes in microbrews are like art galleries.

Do you like beer?

Yeah, of course. I enjoy hoppy and bitter pale ales and IPAs session. You know, there are more and more amazing products on store shelves across Quebec, much to the delight of beer lovers. I like that the bottles and cans have more of an eclectic branding. I'd love to illustrate cans one day because I prefer them to bottles. And I'd like to do something completely different The Devil's Hole - something with the same personal approach from another angle. I have a lot of respect for the audacity of certain breweries that have abstract labels inspired by the Bauhaus movement.

When you started working for Devil's Hole, it was an independent microbrewery and one of Quebec's flagship craft beer makers. In November of 2017, the company was bought by the Molson Brewing Company, a huge multinational. Did that change anything for you? Will you continue to illustrate its labels?

Yes, and I'm already working on new labels. I've always worked with the co-founders, Isaac and Andrew, and they are still doing their regular jobs and working together. I have a contract with Le Trou du Diable and it will be respected no matter who holds the company's shares. Our professional relationship has not changed and is still working together. I think we still have many stories left to say through the images on their beer bottles.

What are your favorite labels among the ones you illustrated?

Definitively The Limbo, because it's the image I connect with the most. However, I also really like Aldred, Les 4 Surfers de l'Apocalypso, Albert 3, and La Bretteuse.

Les 4 surfeurs de l'Apocalypso

This was the second design I did for Le Trou du Diable and I wanted to do something fresh ... and blue! That's because, back then, I felt there were no blue beer labels on store shelves. The original idea was to have surfers who were members of a warrior tribe. Initially, it was more a "Superhero" concept. I drew lots of sketches for this one, for me, the most interesting part was incorporating Mayan masks into the illustration. I would like to hear a tribal soundtrack and some of these muslims. That idea did come across and the label has become a classic. Actually, the design has been a lot of praise on several beer blogs in Europe and the United States.


Albert 3

For this one, Isaac asked me for some suggestions to help him redesign the branding of one of their beers. I wanted to draw a monkey, just like the ones that have been sent into space by the Americans and Russians to test the effects of space travel. Unfortunately, most of the time goes into the earth. However, I thought it would be funny to imagine that these primates had somehow landed on a planet where the Amazonian race danced all night long! On the label, Albert 3 (the third monkey in a long line primates sent to space) definitely looks like a planet, with a cross-eyed look! This illustration is also a reference to that date back to the beginning of the 20th century.

Aldred

John Edward Aldred is an important historical figure in Quebec. In 1898, he built the province's first hydro-electric station in Shawinigan. I thought it would be interesting to illustrate it proudly in front of the dam he built. I also added a touch of vintage sci-fi imagery into the drawing by incorporating giant robots installing electric power lines in the background. They are the same power lines that criss-cross the whole province and that help provide Quebecers with clean energy. I like to think Aldred was the Howard Hughes of the energy sector.

La Bretteuse

This label is a direct reference to Lewis Caroll's novel, Alice in Wonderland. However, in my image, there's a twist to the story and the roles are reversed. Alice, now an adult, takes control of time, not the White Rabbit.

The back of the label reads, "Time is not something we receive, it's something we take." This quote is accompanied by a second drawing where we see Alice impaling the white Rabbit with her own sword. That second illustration was a request from Isaac.

credits

Pictures: Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté

Translation from french: Peter Tardif

Share this

© Affranchi - The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the author's consent

credits

Pictures: Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté

Translation from french: Peter Tardif

Share this

© Affranchi - The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the author's consent


interview

Le Trou du Diable

Fred Jourdain / Martin Parrot

In 2013, Fred and I have been talking about the labels of Quebec beer companies, as well as their publicity and branding. He had lots of questions about the whole process. That same year, he actually started creating beer labels for craft beer maker, The Devil's Hole. Fred understood well The Devil's Hole is a personality and he fits his style to bring justice to the business' brand.

How did your collaboration with The Devil's Hole begin?

It's a bit weird actually. Everything happened in the fall of 2013. I put Isaac Tremblay, one of the co-founders of Le Trou du Diable . Back then, I was curious about the image and branding of many breweries. Meanwhile, Isaac needed an image for Les Limbes, , a limited edition beer brewed in collaboration with the God of Heaven brewery. The timing was perfect.

Back then Were you a fan of the beer labels you were seeing on grocery store shelves?

I found that most of the labels of Quebec beer companies were repetitive or very classic. In my opinion, Le Trou du Diable was already one of the more interesting brands to look at. Their visuals stood out. The first beer I bought from them La Pitoune I do it because of the beauty of the illustration on the bottle. I wondered who had made it because it was a really well crafted image. After a bit of research, I discovered it was a drawing back to the beginning of the 20th century, probably from a magazine. By using this illustration, Le Trou du Diable skillfully combined traditional imagery with a modern twist. The design of their bottles was also very distinctive. I later learned they were a prototype they got from their friends at Beau's Brewery. Deciding not to go ahead with the regular 500 ml bottle was an original and simple idea. In my opinion, the audience understands the importance of having a unique visual signature, one that added value to their product.

I grew up in an environment where Coca-Cola ads were considered art pieces. When you think about it, Illustrations are an art form that are perfect to market and sell products. You are here Alfons Mucha drew for JOB cigarette papers to understand the value of an illustrator's touch. By the way, Mucha was shunned by academics because of his work in marketing. Art connoisseurs believed Mucha had lost his artistic integrity because of those ads. The debate on artistic integrity is nothing new.

When Isaac Tremblay contacted you, was he hoping his beer labels would become works of art?

Back then, the brewery was on the verge of substantially growing production and distribution. On top of their regular beers, Le Trou du Diable was set to add a variety of new products to store shelves. Isaac wanted to give them a visual personality, starting with Les Limbes, . He told me, "I want a drawing of the Grim Reaper in purgatory."

I drew some sketches and ended up with a concept that brought together a young woman and the Grim Reaper. It's a classic layout that comes from an ancient myth: love and beauty come face to face with death and end up giving it a touch of humanity. It's a very romantic idea and I wanted to give the image some of the style of 1950s American comic books. With my more relaxed drawing style, it ended up being a unique hybrid. It was my first collaboration with Le Trou du Diable and since then, I've created 18 of their labels.

With the exception of the one you did for Limbo, it feels like more of your other labels. They're a lot different from what we find in your portraits and your more narrative scenes.

You're right. I wanted to do something different, something with a comic book Le Trou du Diable 's themes that are dark and hint towards danger. Here in Quebec, a large part of the illustrations used in beer branding have been inspired by traditional or folkloric imagery. There were, and there still are, a lot of dramatic scenes borrowed from colonial French-Canadian and Catholic heritage. Tea Unibroue it was very successful. But for Le Trou du Diable 's labels, I decided to go back to the drawing style I had when I was a teenager. It just came naturally and I've always liked funny and more humorous illustrations. In fact, I worked on some issues of Safarir (Quebec's version of MAD Magazine) when I was 17 or 18 years old. That experience influenced me so much that it was kind of instinctive for me to return to that style. The labels have a touch of irony and humor and I think they turned out really well.

The labels received a lot of attention and I think of their success with other designs. It turns out illustrators are more in demand for this type of work. I like to think that we have a precedent. When you think about it, the design of a beer label is important as an album cover. And nowadays, there are so many to explore. I noticed how big of a deal craft beer has become a trip to the United States few years ago: the shelves of stores that specializes in microbrews are like art galleries.

Do you like beer?

Yeah, of course. I enjoy hoppy and bitter pale ales and IPAs session. You know, there are more and more amazing products on store shelves across Quebec, much to the delight of beer lovers. I like that the bottles and cans have more of an eclectic branding. I'd love to illustrate cans one day because I prefer them to bottles. And I'd like to do something completely different The Devil's Hole - something with the same personal approach from another angle. I have a lot of respect for the audacity of certain breweries that have abstract labels inspired by the Bauhaus movement.

When you started working for Devil's Hole, it was an independent microbrewery and one of Quebec's flagship craft beer makers. In November of 2017, the company was bought by the Molson Brewing Company, a huge multinational. Did that change anything for you? Will you continue to illustrate its labels?

Yes, and I'm already working on new labels. I've always worked with the co-founders, Isaac and Andrew, and they are still doing their regular jobs and working together. I have a contract with Le Trou du Diable and it will be respected no matter who holds the company's shares. Our professional relationship has not changed and is still working together. I think we still have many stories left to say through the images on their beer bottles.

What are your favorite labels among the ones you illustrated?

Definitively Les Limbes, because it's the image I connect with the most. However, I also really like Aldred, Les 4 Surfers de l'Apocalypso, Albert 3, and La Bretteuse.

Les 4 surfeurs de l'Apocalypso

This was the second design I did for Le Trou du Diable and I wanted to do something fresh ... and blue! That's because, back then, I felt there were no blue beer labels on store shelves. The original idea was to have surfers who were members of a warrior tribe. Initially, it was more a "Superhero" concept. I drew lots of sketches for this one, for me, the most interesting part was incorporating Mayan masks into the illustration. I would like to hear a tribal soundtrack and some of these muslims. That idea did come across and the label has become a classic. Actually, the design has been a lot of praise on several beer blogs in Europe and the United States.

Albert 3

For this one, Isaac asked me for some suggestions to help him redesign the branding of one of their beers. I wanted to draw a monkey, just like the ones that have been sent into space by the Americans and Russians to test the effects of space travel. Unfortunately, most of the time goes into the earth. However, I thought it would be funny to imagine that these primates had somehow landed on a planet where the Amazonian race danced all night long!

On the label, Albert 3 (the third monkey in a long line primates sent to space) definitely looks like a planet, with a cross-eyed look! This illustration is also a reference to that date back to the beginning of the 20th century.

Aldred

John Edward Aldred is an important historical figure in Quebec. In 1898, he built the province's first hydro-electric station in Shawinigan. I thought it would be interesting to illustrate it proudly in front of the dam he built. I also added a touch of vintage sci-fi imagery into the drawing by incorporating giant robots installing electric power lines in the background.

They are the same power lines that criss-cross the whole province and that help provide Quebecers with clean energy. I like to think Aldred was the Howard Hughes of the energy sector.

La Bretteuse

This label is a direct reference to Lewis Caroll's novel, Alice in Wonderland. However, in my image, there's a twist to the story and the roles are reversed. Alice, now an adult, takes control of time, not the White Rabbit. The back of the label reads,

"Time is not something we receive, it's something we take."

This quote is accompanied by a second drawing where we see Alice impaling the white Rabbit with her own sword. That second illustration was a request from Isaac.

credits

Pictures: Anthony Jourdain, Catherine Côté, Fred Jourdain, Martin Poulin, Martin Côté

Translation from french: Peter Tardif

Share this

© Affranchi - The contents of this publication may not be reproduced without the author's consent